Most of you might have heard the name Mother Teresa, but you might not know how great the personality was. How did she become a social nun, and what was she before and after becoming Mother Teresa?
So let’s dive into the article to know about her.
Mother Teresa was a massively famous Albanian-Indian Roman Catholic nun and missionary. Whenever you think of selflessness, probably the first name that pops up in your head is Mother Teresa. She dedicated her entire life in helping people, and that’s how she will always be remembered as.
Her official biography, “Mother Teresa,” written by Navin Chawla, came out in 1992. Her official biography has been the subject of films and other books as well.
Sadly, we lost her on 5th September 1997 at the age of 87.
Quick Facts about Saint Mother Teresa
- Full Name: Anjezë Gonxhe Bojaxhiu
- Also Known As: Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu, Mary Teresa Bojaxhiu, The Saint of the Gutters, Blessed Teresa of Calcutta
- Famous As: Mother Teresa, The nun who provided care to the poor in Kolkata
- Born On: 26 August 1910
- Died On: 5 September 1997
- Birthplace: Skopje, Kosovo Vilayet, Ottoman Empire (now, Skopje, North Macedonia)
- Education: Loreto Abbey, Rathfarnham, Ireland
- Parents: Nikollë Bojaxhiu (Father), Dranafile Bojaxhiu (Mother)
- Profession: Nun, Missionary, and Teacher
- Religion: Christianity (Roman Catholic)
- Awards: Ramon Magsaysay Peace Prize in 1962, Nobel Peace Prize in 1979, Bharat Ratna in 1980
Early Life of the Saint of the Gutters
Mother Teresa, whose birth name is Anjezë Gonxhe Bojaxhiu, was born to a Kosovar Albanian family. She was born on 26 August 1910 in Skopje, Ottoman Empire (now, Skopje, North Macedonia). However, she was baptized the following day due to which she considered 27 August 1910 to be her actual birthday.
Family of Mother Teresa
Mother Teresa belonged to an Albanian family. Her father, Nikollë Bojaxhiu, was a businessman who was into politics as well. However, he died in 1919 when she was just eight years of age.
She had two elder sisters, and after her father’s demise, she was very close to her mother, Dranafile Bojaxhiu, who taught her good values and the importance of Charity.
Education and Early Years
Mother Teresa went to a primary school and always used to sing Sacred Heart Choir as a child. She had decided to dedicate her life to helping people in her early years.
At 18 years of age in 1928, she left her home to join the Sisters of Loreto at Loreto Abbey in Rathfarnham, Ireland. She did this to learn English as she wanted to become a missionary. She was so dedicated to the cause that she never met her mother or sister again after leaving her home.
The following year, she reached India and began her novitiate (training) in Darjeeling. During this time, she learned Bengali and started teaching at St. Teresa’s School.
A couple of years later, on 24th May 1931, she took her first religious vows. However, she took her solemn vows six years later on 14th May 1937. She worked at the Loreto Convent School in Entally, Calcutta (now, Kolkata) for 20 years.
The Career of the Dedicated Nun
Her missionary work began in 1948, after moving to Patna to receive basic medical training at the Holy Family Hospital. Following this, she started a school in Motijhil, Kolkata, before caring for the poor.
In 1950, she founded the Missionaries of Charity, a religious congregation and is now known as the Saint Teresa of Calcutta. As of October 2020, 167 sisters are its members. The congregation is dedicated to helping the poor and giving them other help as needed.
A couple of years later, she opened her first hospice, which was a deserted Hindu temple. She renamed it to Kalighat, the Home of the Pure Heart. She next opened a hospice for people with leprosy and named it to Shanti Nagar (city of peace).
Her congregation grew stronger with time and gained recruits and donations. As a result, she had opened hospices, orphanages, and leper houses across India by the 1960s.
She then began helping overseas, and in 1965, she opened a house in Venezuela with five sisters. She had opened houses in Rome, Tanzania, Austria, Asia, Africa, and Europe by the 1980s.
Laying Several Foundations in India
In 1963, she founded The Missionaries of Charity Brothers, and in 1981 she founded the Corpus Christi Movement for Priests. Three years later, in 1984, she founded the Missionaries of Charity Fathers together with Joseph Langford.
One of the most amazing works occurred during the Siege of Beirut in 1982 when she rescued 37 children trapped in a hospital with Red Cross workers.
In 1991, she opened a Missionaries of Charity Brothers home in Tirana, Republic of Albania. She has also traveled internationally to help victims of the Chernobyl explosion in Ukraine and Armenia earthquake victims.
A Short Incident about Her Greatness
Saint Mother Teresa once went to a bakery shop and asked the man to provide bread for her orphan children. The baker spat on the hand she forwarded. Mother Teresa smilingly said that she would keep that for herself and forward her other hand, asking for her children’s bread. This made the bakery man realized her greatness, and since then, he became the bread donor for the orphans.
Achievements of Saint Mother Teresa of Kolkata
There is a never-ending list of awards won by Mother Teresa. To be precise, it’s 124.
Here are some of the achievements of Mother Teresa:
- She was the winner of the Ramon Magsaysay Peace Prize in 1962.
- She was the winner of the Nobel Peace Prize in 1979.
- She was awarded the United States honorary citizenship in 1996.
- She was the winner of the first Pope John XXIII Peace Prize in 1971.
- She was honored with India’s esteemed honorary award – Bharat Ratna, in 1980.
Lesser-Known Facts about Mother Teresa
Here are some of the lesser-known facts about Saint Mother Teresa:
- There were times when Mother Teresa wasn’t always strong in her faith and wasn’t sure about God’s power.
- She was greatly adored by the people of the United States of America. They voted her as one of the ten most admirable women, an impressive 18 times in Gallup’s yearly poll.
- She once turned down a Nobel Prize honor bouquet and instead requested funds of US$192,000 for the poor in India.
- She used to write in dust/dirt to provide education to the children.
- Popular actress, Geraldine Chaplin played the role of Mother Teresa in the 1997 biographical drama film, Mother Teresa: In the Name of God’s Poor.
- Mother Teresa knew several languages, such as English, Bengali, Hindi, Serbian, and Albanian. This helped her communicate with different people easily.
Illness and Death
Mother Teresa suffered from poor health during her later years. By 1991, she had suffered from pneumonia and had a couple of heart attacks. She continued to work even after this, and in 1996, she broke her collarbone. Four months later, she suffered from malaria and heart failure.
It was rumored that she had a priest perform an exorcism, but she thought she was under the devil’s attack.
She resigned on 13 March 1997 as the head of the Missionaries of Charity, and she bid adieu to the world on 5 September.
Years after her death, she was announced as the Saint in 2016.
She did great social work, and she will continue to be an inspiration. However, with that being said, she is not universally adored as many hate her for her stand on pregnancy and abortion. She is equally criticized for the conditions that existed in her houses for the dying.
Famous Quotes by Mother Teresa
“Peace begins with a smile.”
“I see God in every human being.”
“Joy is prayer, joy is strength, joy is love.”
“Intense love does not measure, it just gives.”
“Joy is a net of love in which you can catch souls.”
“Faith in action is love. Love in action is service.”
“If you can’t feed a hundred people, then feed just one.”
“One of the greatest diseases is to be nobody to anybody.”
“We are called upon not to be successful, but to be faithful.”
“God does not create poverty; we do, because we do not share.”
“Don’t look for big things, just do small things with great love.”
“We shall never know all the good that a simple smile can do.”
“A joyful heart is the normal result of a heart burning with love.”
“Love is a fruit in season at all times, and within reach of every hand.”
“Be faithful in small things because it is in them that your strength lies.”
“The miracle is not that we do this work, but that we are happy to do it.”
“Kind words can be short and easy to speak, but their echoes are truly endless.”
“Be kind to each other in your homes. Be kind to those who surround you.”
“I try to give to the poor people for love what the rich could get for money.”
“Never let anyone come to you without coming away better and happier.”
“Be happy in the moment, that’s enough. Each moment is all we need, not more.”
“Let us always meet each other with smile, for the smile is the beginning of love.”
“Yesterday is gone. Tomorrow has not yet come. We have only today. Let us begin.”
“If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other.”
“Submission for someone who is in love is more than a duty – it is a blessedness.”
“The hunger for love is much more difficult to remove than the hunger for bread.”
“We do not need guns and bombs to bring peace, we need love and compassion.”
“Spread love everywhere you go. Let no one ever come to you without leaving happier.”
“I can do things you cannot, you can do things I cannot; together we can do great things.”
“The best way to show your gratitude to God and people is to accept everything with joy.”
“The biggest disease today is not leprosy or tuberculosis, but rather the feeling of being unwanted.”
“If you are humble, nothing will touch you, neither praise nor disgrace, because you know what you are.”
“Love cannot remain by itself – it has no meaning. Love has to be put into action, and that action is service.”
“I used to believe that prayer changes things, but now I know that prayer changes us, and we change things.”
“Never worry about numbers. Help one person at a time, and always start with the person nearest you.”
“Your true character Is most accurately measured by how you treat those who can do ‘Nothing’ for you.”
“Whatever our religion, we know that if we really want to love, we must first learn to forgive before anything else.”
“Our joy must come from the fact that people have experienced God’s love for them, through our loving service.”
“Be the living expression of God’s kindness; kindness in your face, kindness in your eyes, kindness in your smile.”
“If you want a love message to be heard, it has got to be sent out. To keep a lamp burning, we have to keep putting oil in it.”
“I’ve always said we should help a Hindu become a better Hindu, a Muslim become a better Muslim, a Catholic become a better Catholic.”
“We ourselves feel that what we are doing is just a drop in the ocean. But if the drop was not in the ocean, I think the ocean would be less because of the missing drop.”
“Our life of poverty is as necessary as the work itself. Only in heaven will we see how much we owe to the poor for helping us to love God better because of them.”
“Let us more and more insist on raising funds of love, of kindness, of understanding, of peace. Money will come if we seek first the Kingdom of God – the rest will be given.”
“No matter how tired you are, no matter how physically exhausting this work may be, it’s beautiful to bring a smile into someone’s life, to care for someone in need. What greater joy can there be?”
“We are misunderstood, we are misrepresented, we are misreported. We are not nurses, we are not doctors, we are not teachers, we are not social workers. We are religious, we are religious, we are religious.”
“We need to find God, and he cannot be found in noise and restlessness. God is the friend of silence. See how nature – trees, flowers, grass- grows in silence; see the stars, the moon and the sun, how they move in silence… We need silence to be able to touch souls.”
“I am not sure exactly what heaven will be like, but I do know that when we die and it comes time for God to judge us, He will not ask, “How many good things have you done in your life?,” rather He will ask, “How much love did you put into what you did?”